I’ve been involved in the Society of Professional Journalists nearly as long as I’ve been involved in journalism. I joined as an undergraduate journalism student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1979-83), and aside from a few “lapsed mommy years,” have been an active member ever since.
I attended my first regional conference (Columbia, Missouri!) in 1980 or 1981, and served as president of my college chapter my senior year. In the late 1980s — after early jobs at the Fort Collins Coloradoan and Indianapolis News with about a minute on a political campaign in between — I landed at the Cincinnati Enquirer for a long stay. During those year, 1986-1994, I served the Queen City Chapter in pretty much every role, including president.
After nearly 40 years as a member and leader for pro and campus chapters, I began my involvement on the national level in 2013 as director of SPJ’s Region 4 (Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia and part of Pennsylvania). In 2016-17, I chaired a task force that examined the size and functions of the board of directors — a process that reduces the board to nine members, effective EIJ19, and spurred the current work to create a strategic plan for SPJ. In 2017-18, I served as the board’s secretary-treasurer, moving to president-elect for 2018-19 and now, as EIJ19 approaches, president of the board.
I have already promised my board colleagues a very boring year.
I make that pledge publicly now — and only a little bit tongue-in-cheek.
My priorities are bread-and-butter, but essential to the health and stability of the Society:
Welcome a new executive director. As many of you know, our last executive director resigned near the end of April, after just more than a year with us. We are now deep into the process of searching for a new ED — with every intention of finding someone with top-notch administrative skills to lead our most-excellent staff, and either experience in or solid knowledge of the world of journalism. Our search committee is working with a terrific professional search firm to recruit and hire the best possible candidate by early fall. Expect to hear lots more on that as the process plays out.
Launch Phase II of a Strategic Planning Task Force. J. Alex Tarquinio, SPJ’s 2018-19 president, appointed this group in early 2019 to begin work toward putting a strategic plan on paper. At EIJ19, you’ll hear an update on that work. (Consider this your invitation to the business meeting, Saturday, Sept. 7, 9-10 a.m.!) We’ll continue the initiative after EIJ, with the goal of putting a plan before the board by spring 2020.
Continue advocacy for press rights, with close attention to the executive branch. We do a lot of this — but I hope to do more. Our government continues to demonize the press and SPJ must continue to push against that.
Increase advocacy at the legislative level, and consider lobbying possibilities. We already do some amount of lobbying, so I’ll be exploring our capacity to do more and share those efforts with members.
Increase promotion of and engagement in Legal Defense Fund efforts. We have a very healthy and active LDF — but I think too few members know about.
Increase collaboration with other media advocacy groups. Again, we have many active partnerships that benefit members and the practice of journalism overall. I hope we can grow those as we explore new possibilities.
Establish clearer lines of communication between members — individually and through chapters, regions, committees, communities, etc. — and the board. Expect more on that as the new board gets busy.
Examine membership trends and drill down on how to keep current members and grow our overall membership ranks.
Increase promotion of member initiatives. Members are truly the lifeblood of SPJ. They are why we exist. During 2019, I met with members at regional conferences in Cleveland, Nashville and Louisville. I attend as many Cincinnati chapter events as possible. I read reports from chapters across the country. I am amazed by the effort and energy of the SPJ community. So so many chapters stage so so many innovative and helpful programs:
- At the SPJ Region 4 conference in Cleveland in early March, I was inspired by Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy’s clear dedication — on full display this past Monday — to adding diversity to Pulitzer picks. Sessions on podcasting, newsroom glass ceilings, sports reporting and the First Amendment rights of students were all terrific.
- At the SPJ Region 12 conference in Nashville, March 29-30, organizers staged a one-hour “Lightning Talks” opening event. Speakers — each allotted a “tight five” on stage — included: the creator a food site called Dirty Page; a #Tspotter weather journalist; writers for The Ringer and The Athletic; and a drone videographer. All were impressive.
- At the SPJ Region 5 conference in Louisville, April 5-6, our own Lou Harry kicked off the conference with a lively journalism-themed trivia night. Highlights the next day included two meaty sessions with journalists at the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and a panel of student journalists from Kentucky and Chicago going head-to-head with anti-press administrations.
I am excited to start my year as board president. I look forward to celebrating SPJ, celebrating journalism and celebrating journalists.
We have much work ahead but many dedicated SPJers to share the load.
Patricia Gallagher Newberry
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
- National Board of Directors: president-elect, 2018-19; secretary-treasurer, 2017-18; Region 4 director, 2013-17.
- Current engagements: member, Executive Director Search Committee, 2019-present; member, Strategic Planning Task Force, 2019-present; Executive Committee, 2018-present; chair, SPJ Governance Task Force, 2016-17; member, Sigma Delta Chi board of directors, 2015-present; adviser, Miami University campus chapter; judge, annual Mark of Excellence and Sigma Delta Chi Awards.
- Earlier engagements: chair, SPJ Governance Task Force, 2016-17; co-chair, joint Region 4/5 spring conferences, 1990, 2005, 2016; co-chair, Region 4 spring conference, 2014; programming chair, joint Region 4/5 spring conference, president, vice president of programming, treasurer, newsletter editor, board member, Queen City (Cincinnati) SPJ, 1986-1994; president, treasurer, board member, University of Nebraska-Lincoln chapter, 1980-83.
- Area coordinator and associate lecturer, Journalism Program, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. Member of Miami journalism faculty since 1997.
- Reporter, editor, columnist for 10 newspapers in seven states, 1979-1994.
- See About Me page for more professional activities.
- Born in Chicago; raised and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska; resident of Cincinnati since 1986, aside from 2 1/2 years back in Chicago.
- Married to Doug Newberry, a designer in the HVAC industry, since 1990.
- Daughter Frances, an artist and art educator who also works in the restaurant business, is 27. Son Arthur, 25, runs CaffeMarco, a coffee roasting business in Paris, Kentucky. Daughter Beatrice, 22, works for Impact Partners, a consultant to woman-owned nonprofits and is completing a master’s degree in business administration at Miami University.
- J.J. Magoo and Sir Winston, our faithful basset hounds, are 4 and 11, respectively.
- Freetime pursuits include fitness walking, raising money for my Catholic parish, finding new binge-worthy true-crime TV and podcast series, and cooking Sunday dinners for my family.
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- office phone: 513.529.5893
- cell phone: 513.702.4065
- Twitter: @pattinewberry
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patti.newberry